The Eiffel Lightning Rod
May 29, 2013
Photographer: Bertrand Kulik; Bertrand’s Web site
Summary Authors: Bertrand Kulik; Jim Foster
The Eiffel Tower is likely to be hit by lightning during every electrical storm that affects Paris. Of course, any pronounced object has an increased chance of being clobbered by a cloud-to-ground lightning bolt. A bolt’s electric field is enhanced by the object itself – the closer a building (or any grounded object) is to the base of a thunderstorm the stronger its electric field. Standing 916 ft (279 m) tall and hundreds of feet higher than any nearby structure, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most prominent manmade objects on Earth. The top photo shows lightning almost wrapping around the tower. During this rather weak convective storm, about the only lightning observed was in the vicinity of the Eiffel Tower. In the bottom photo, taken a few minutes after the upper photo, the storm has moved off but you’ll note mammatus clouds near the top of the image.
Photo details: Top - Camera Model: Canon EOS 7D; Lens: Sigma 17-70mm; Focal Length: 55mm; Aperture: f/16.0; Exposure Time: 0.033 s (1/30); ISO equiv: 100; Software: Adobe Photoshop CS4 Windows. Bottom - same except: Aperture: f/18.2; Exposure Time: 0.031 s (1/32).